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The Ultimate Ending To Romeo And Juliet: Mercutio’s Death

1362 words - 5 pages

Act three, scene one is a pivotal moment in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Tybalt confronts Mercutio and Benvolio, demanding to know where Romeo is. When the young hero meets them, he is challenged to a duel, which he refuses because Tybalt is now his cousin due to Romeo’s marriage to Juliet. Mercutio and Tybalt begin to fight, resulting in Mercutio’s death and placing the romantic leads on an inevitable crash course with misunderstanding and eventual suicide.

Around line 90 of act three, scene one, Mercutio is stabbed by Tybalt. He yells, “I am hurt; / A plague o’ both your houses! I am sped: / Is he gone, and hath nothing?” (3.1.87-9). Sped here means, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, “to be discharged or let go”. This is interesting because it could be taken to mean that Tybalt has let Mercutio go and that they have stopped fighting, which they have, or it could also mean that Mercutio’s life has let go of him and he is about to die. Romeo and Benvolio apparently think that the former explanation must be the correct one and don’t catch on to the pun. Neither man realizes that their friend is mortally wounded, especially when he is still joking bitterly with them as he normally does. Benvolio doesn’t notice that he is hurt at all, asking Mercutio, “What, art thou hurt?” (3.1.90). Romeo tries to comfort Mercutio, telling him, “...the hurt cannot be much” (3.1.93). Line 89 consists of Mercutio asking his friends if Tybalt has fled and if he has received any injuries. Tybalt has indeed fled from the three and Shakespeare provides no clue as to the nature of any injuries he may have sustained from the duel with Mercutio.

Lines 94 to 99 are full of Mercutio’s wit. Speaking about his injury to Romeo, he says:No, ‘tis not so deep as a well, not so wide as a church-door; but ‘tis enough, ‘twill serve: ask for me tomorrow and you shall find me a grave man. I am peppered, I warrant, for this world. A plague o’ both your houses! ‘Zounds, a dog, a rat, a mouse, a cat, to scratch a man to death! a braggart, a rogue, a villain, that fights by the book of arithmetic! Why the devil came you between us? I was hurt under your arm. (3.1.94-9) Mercutio declares that his injury is not as deep as a well, nor as wide as a church-door, which it obviously wouldn’t be since Mercutio is not the size of a house or filled with as much liquid as a well is. However, through his exaggeration of how small the cut is, the reader can still see his pain through his next few words, “...but ‘tis enough, ‘twill serve...” (3.1.94-5). Although the injury is small compared to these huge objects (a church-door, a well filled with water), it is still large enough to do some incredible damage, including taking Mercutio’s life. His joking continues when he says, “...ask for me tomorrow and you shall find me a grave man” (3.1.95). His pun on grave lightens the mood. The word “grave” could mean that he would be a respected man for having survived Tybalt’s assault or,...

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